Ecuador claims UK firm bugged its London embassy

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters Wednesday that a hidden microphone discovered in an electrical outlet in its London embassy last month belonged to Surveillance Group, a private UK company.

At a news conference Patino held up a picture of the alleged bug, found on June 16, and said it was meant to listen to conversations in Ambassador Ana Alban's office, reportedly near the room where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living.

"We have reason to believe that the bugging was carried out by the Surveillance Group Limited, one of the largest private investigation and covert surveillance companies in the United Kingdom," Patino said.

The UK surveillance group denied the accusation, with CEO Timothy Young saying the charges were "completely untrue," adding that his company had "never been engaged in any activities of this nature."

On the company's website Surveillance Group says it combines "the practices, skills and experience of Special Forces, Police and commercial surveillance to create an entirely new form of surveillance."

Patino said Ecuador would seek assistance from the UK government in their investigation.

Assange has lived in Ecuador's London embassy for more than a year in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden - on allegations of sexual assault and rape - and from there extradition to the United States, where he could face charges for his part in the release of classified US documents.